Mono_cult has been a firm fixture in the Leeds event schedule for the past 8 years, showcasing some of the biggest names in house and techno all served up with a signature mono_cult touch. Whether it has been through their day time parties or now famous New Year's Day events, the mono_cult brand has firmly established itself as a Leeds favourite in its tenure at many of the cities venues and event spaces. The people of Leeds have been treated to some of the biggest parties the city has seen in recent years, however following The Last Dance, as of the 2nd January this will no longer be the case as mono_cult will depart the city where it all started and make a permanent move to the capital.
Matt Long is one of the founding members of the brand and resident DJ alongside other remaining founders Brad Mercer and Paul Kaminski. We caught up with Matt to get a unique insight into mono_cult’s journey to becoming one of the most popular parties to reside in Leeds over the course of the past 8 years.
Like many events that start in the UK, mono_cult drew inspiration from a hedonism filled Balearic Island. “Collectively we were all influenced from Ibiza day parties, we’d all done summer seasons together there back in 05/06 experiencing Circoloco, Cocoon afterparties and all the usual stuff Ibiza has to offer. Back in the UK parties like Secretsundaze, Below and Mulletover were all key influences at the time.” As well as experiences in Ibiza, Leeds itself had plenty to offer in the shaping of mono_cult with legendary Leeds based night Back To Basics, Dirty Disco and Technique & Asylum all credited with lending a hand.
However, it was not simply a case of taking elements of other nights and piecing them together to create mono_cult; bringing something new to the Leeds scene was something that was always at the forefront when starting out. “We (me, Brad, Paul, James, Gareth and Ozzy – the original members) wanted to start a night around everything that was already ongoing in Leeds at the time. No one was running any Sunday day parties and we felt this could add to the scene at the time bringing something new to the city.” With that, mono_cult took up residency at The Lounge, a bar situated right in the heart of Leeds city centre. “The Lounge was the perfect venue for this with its amazing alfresco terrace, (pre refurb for those who didn’t manage to experience it) trees and plants in between the decks and the stage we set up. There was no other venue like it and still isn’t now, however due to the open style terrace it was inevitable we would always get shut down due to sound issues, I think we managed to get away with 6 (amazing) parties before we had to find a new venue.”
“Can't forget some of the memorable parties at The Lounge, I think our third one we did at the Lounge with Rob Mello stands out the most, it fell on a bank holiday, the weather was great and word had spread about the parties. All we’d done for promo was print off some A3 black and white posters from Uni and a bit of promo online and hoped for the best. A couple of hours into opening the doors we had a queue around the block to the Subway and were 800 people deep on the terrace with one member of security (Charlie - legend) for the whole place. It was this party that really put us on the map.”
mono_cult presents: Rob Mello at The Lounge
Across the 8 years, mono_cult has been lucky enough to welcome a host of DJing talent to their parties, ranging from early bookings like Rob Mello and Rhadoo to the likes of Prosumer, Motor City Drum Ensemble and Kassem Mosse to name a few. In keeping within the theme of bringing something new to Leeds, mono_cult provided Dixon with his Leeds debut as well allowing Joy Orbison to show off the depth of his record collection to a Leeds crowd for the first time. “I was really into the UK bass sound when that was emerging and remember booking Ramadanman B2B Joy Orbison as a headline set at The Faversham. This was the first time they’d played for a house and techno night in Leeds outside of their usual gigs in the city at the likes of Subdub.”
Mono_cult’s progression to becoming one of the most popular nights in Leeds is one that has seen them swap and change between many homes within Leeds. The Lounge, The Faversham, Full Circle, Castleton Mill, The HUB, Wire and most recently Canal Mills have all provided the back drop for mono_cult over the years. “The Faversham holds the strongest connection for me as we’ve held parties there on and off throughout the 8 years. The most memorable ones will always be from our New Year's Day parties we held there. However Full Circle has to be the most fun and crazy venue we did parties at. I loved the layout of the space and how different it was to anywhere else in Leeds at the time.”
“From around 2008 we’d been slowly building up out NYD events at The Faversham, adding different elements each year and I think our one on 2013 was my personal highlight. I'd managed to lock down Henrick Shwarz to play his debut live set, Jackmaster made his debut for us playing two sets; first tweakaholic early door party set then later on in the main room. We also had Mano Le Tough, Krystal Klear and Lauer laying over the 12 hours ending the night with a Bicep taps off to Byron Stingily - Get Up Everybody.”
mono_cult: NYD 2013 at The Faversham
Like any self started event, there will be ups and downs and solidifying a consistent group of attendees is something which every promoter dreams of when starting out. But in a city like Leeds where so many new events spring up and battle to get numbers on the dance floor, it is far from a guarantee. For mono_cult, it was a shifting dynamic in the city’s scene that was the biggest battle of all. “When we moved to Wire to start our residency there, we were the only house and techno night at the club and we brought the likes of Motor City Drum Ensemble, Dixon, Prosumer to our monthly residency. But Leeds didn’t really get that sound at the time or really Wire as a venue. Although we had good parties and numbers, it was never really enough to cover costs and over the course of the year it nearly crippled us.” Being kept afloat by the popularity of NYD events at the Faversham, avoiding having to bring things to an end, mono_cult decided to leave Wire and concentrate on putting on less events, on a larger scale. As time went on these larger events continued to grow in popularity allowing for the likes Four Tet, Daphni, Floating Points, Gerd Janson and Move D all to feature on one lineup earlier in 2015.
“The first time Move D played for us in Wire on our 3rd birthday – atmosphere was electric and it was the first time he’d played in the city. We recorded the night on to my laptop and when we left the club a little boozey, we managed to leave the record bags and laptop in the taxi so it was lost for good. When Move D returned to play later in the year he recorded the set himself so it wouldn’t get lost, it's a winner."
mono_cult 3rd Birthday: Move D at Wire
While the Leeds chapter of mono_cult is set to end this New Year’s Day, the adventure will continue in London where the brand has staged a number of successful events over the past few years. Taking up residency at Dance Tunnel in 2013 mono_cult have been working with them since, taking a step back from the large scale events in Leeds. “It’s an amazing 200 capacity space so a lot smaller than any that we have done in Leeds but the space is very comparable to Wire, low ceiling, basement and good sound system which works perfect for our parties.” With the move to London, brings a new crowd and new musical avenues and ideas to explore as mono_cult London has already welcomed artists including Andras Fox, Pender Street Steppers and Vakula. Thanks to a handful of the original mono_cult crew now being based in London, the parties have already developed a good following and will continue onwards through 2016.
As Leeds prepares for The Last Dance this NYD, no doubt it will be disappointing to know it is the last time mono_cult will throw a party in the city. Nonetheless, Matt and co feel the time is right to move on. “Mono_cult’s had an amazing and successful 8 years of parties, we’ve booked almost everyone we’ve want to but the original collective has moved on and everyone is concentrating on individual projects now, just myself, Paul and Brad remain as residents. The Leeds music scene has changed a lot over recent years and although I'll continue my involvement with Canal Mills and The Garden Party it felt right to end now”.
Although Leeds may be losing another key fixture of its events schedule, the departure of mono_cult can be celebrated as another occasion Leeds proved itself as the as a city that can lay the foundations for any budding group of promoters to achieve success.
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